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Declaratory Judgment Common Law Marriage In Alabama

The elements of a common-law marriage are:

(1) capacity;

(2) present agreement or mutual consent to enter into the marriage relationship ...;

(3) public recognition of the existence of the marriage;

(4) cohabitation or mutual assumption openly of marital duties and obligations." Adams v. Boan, 559 So. 2d 1084, 1086 (Ala. 1990).

A trial court will not exercise jurisdiction over a declaratory-judgment action if there is pending at the same time another action or proceeding that involves the same parties and in which the same issue is involved. Evans v. Cumberland Lake Country Club, 682 So. 2d 11, 15 (Ala. 1996); Home Ins. Co. v. Hillview 78 West Fire Dist., 395 So. 2d 43 (Ala. 1981); Mathis v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 387 So. 2d 166, 167 (Ala. 1980); Foreman v. Smith, 272 Ala. 624, 133 So. 2d 497 (1961).

However, when pending cases do not involve the same parties, "the trial court has wide discretion in determining whether to award declaratory relief when another action presents the same issue." Ex parte Breman Lake View Resort, L.P., 729 So. 2d 849, 851 (Ala. 1999); Home Ins. Co., 395 So. 2d at 45.

When the trial court's judgment is based on findings of fact that, in turn, were based on ore tenus evidence, an appellate court will not disturb that judgment "unless it is unsupported by the evidence or is palpably wrong. Mangina v. Bush, 286 Ala. 90, 237 So. 2d 479 (1970)." CRW, Inc. v. Twin Lakes Property Owners Ass'n, Inc., 521 So. 2d 939, 941 (Ala. 1988).

"This Court, therefore, 'will indulge all favorable presumptions to sustain the trial court's conclusion, and it will be disturbed on appeal only if shown to be plainly erroneous or manifestly unjust.' Roberts v. Peoples Bank & Trust Co., 410 So. 2d 393 (Ala. 1982), citing Century Plaza Co. v. Hibbett Sporting Goods, Inc., 382 So. 2d 7 (Ala. 1980), and Krieger v. Krieger, 276 Ala. 466, 163 So. 2d 623 (1964)." Id.

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